I listened to a lecture last night by one of my favorite writing teachers, Al Watt. One of his exercises is for each writer to free write about his/her fears when it comes to writing a particular novel or screenplay. Common fears include fear of failing, fear of writing dreck, fear of forcing the story instead of letting the characters guide the writing, fear of dying, fear of hurting others.
Then Al asks writers to think about the protagonist of the story and to connect the primal essence of the writer’s fears to the character’s fears. At deep core, they are the same fears: fear of failure, fear of disappointing (self or others), fear of not measuring up, fear of facing a deep challenge, and on and on.
When you, the writer, can connect your fears to the fears of your character–emotions at their most primal, at their essence–then you have a lifeline into the story you are writing. Try it, it’s powerful and freeing.
Happy writing, Sarah